Friday, August 30, 2013

Hamilton House museum, South Berwick, Maine

Hamilton House was built by Jonathan Hamilton, a shipping merchant, in 1785 but that is not where its fame nor interest really derive. Sitting on a hill overlooking the Salmon Falls River the setting is as picturesque as can be imagined and so caught the attention of 2 ladies in the early 20th century who turned it into what it has become today.
Emily Tyson and her stepdaughter, Elise, purchased the house as it had been marvelously kept intact since the 18th century.  They imparted their own version of the 18th century on the house and inserted their fascinating collection of furniture and decorative arts.
Photographs aren't allowed inside Hamilton House so I found 2 images from the website to share with you and perhaps entice you to visit! The central entry hall spans the depth of the house and features this crazy architectural wallpaper the Tysons had recreated from a sample found.
The highlight on the interior for me are murals on the dining room and parlor walls depicting both Greek & Roman scenes and other local historic houses and ships. All of the woodwork found throughout the house is original to the 18th century; I particularly like the decorative arches in the parlor flanking a fireplace. The Tysons built the shelves hidden behind them during their occupancy where their books still lay!
 Even on a gray, rainy day like we experienced the gardens and setting are stunning.
The gardens were well published in the Tyson's day, as was the house, as examples of Colonial Revival style.
 After Emily's death, Elise and her husband kept summering in the house until her death in 1949.
 Elise had left the house and its contents to Historic New England so that we can all enjoy it and the surrounding forest to this day.
The highlight of the garden is this formal patch between the house and the garden cottage built by the Tysons from other salvaged 18th century houses.
The cottage was as charming as could be and one could easily imagine having it as their own summer get away. That huge window in the main room was especially inspiring.
Be sure to visit Hamilton House and other Historic New England houses while visiting Maine!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

R Jorgensen Fine Antiques, Maine

One of the biggest surprises I encountered on my trip to Maine was the large number of fine antique stores. I'm not sure why this surprised me as the area is known for it's historical importance! Probably the most famous and finest of all of these shops is R Jorgensen in Wells, Maine.
Not only featuring fine antiques the structures (a house and barn) date to the late 17th century. The gardens really steal the show here. On their website many of the antiques are beautifully photographed outdoors.
Also be sure not to miss their fantastic, fun, and informative blog. As you can see above there is something for everyone, from the primitive and rustic to highly refined antique.
Most of their antiques are so fine as to be real showpieces like this Chippendale breakfront. One can imagine designing an entire room around one piece.
The inventory is staggering, almost like an encyclopedia of antiques. Merely reading the labels provides one with a real education!
The shop is also thoughtfully staged. I particularly loved this statue admiring herself in the ornate antique mirror.
 Don't forget antique lighting!
 If crystal chandeliers or sconces aren't your thing, maybe Gothic will entice you?
I had never seen such elegant little (milking?) stools such as these and was tempted to buy at least one for my fireplace at home.
Old houses which scream out for antiques generally have the problem of limited closet space. Large armoires, dressers, or compactum such as this are not only handy then but a great focal point. I particularly liked the informality and architectural lines of this English pine piece.
And what hostess doesn't want a beautiful sideboard in her dining room for informal buffets? Doesn't this remind you out of an English Country House drama breakfast scene? Again, I love the architectural lines of this piece and all of the wonderful storage! Definitely stop by R Jorgensen if you find yourself in Maine and tell them I sent you (and to save me that orange painted neoclassical grandfathers clock)!
I received no compensation from R Jorgensen for this post. They actually had no idea I was photographing the shop as I walked through and I hope they approve of my posting! If they felt inclined as to give me a large discount there are a number of items I would gladly take off their hands though - call me!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A vacation in Maine

As I mentioned I just returned from a vacation partly spent in southern Maine visiting dear friends. I wanted to share with you some of the highlights in case you decide to visit Maine yourself (I highly recommend it!).
It wouldn't be a vacation for me without 2 things: house museums and antique stores. Luckily Maine hosted an abundance of each!
The first picture shows gorgeous Hamilton House, an 18th century house museum located in South Berwick, Maine. Famous for its early 20th century gardens and quirky collections we unfortunately visited on a rainy day. All the better to enjoy the house and gardens all to ourselves!
 Two of the most amazing antique stores I have ever visited were located along Route 1, R. Jorgensen and MacDougall-Gionet (respectively in the above photos).  Be sure to check out the fascinating blog on R. Jorgensen's website; I'll be doing a further post on my trip there soon.  I wish I had purchased the Neoclassical French sidechair shown at MacDougall-Gionets!
Of course just driving along Routes 1 and 1a shows one some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country as well as beautiful historic houses and sites.
A visit to world famous Stonewall Kitchen in York was at the very top of my list - I'll be fully stocked on jams and condiments for the year to come (favorites are the Pink Grapefruit marmalade and Major Grey's chutney)!
A drive past the Ogunquit Playhouse was exciting as well, after all of the stories one hears. However their choice of performer during our time there was a bit questionable. Needless to say we didn't stop in.
I highly encourage you to visit the southern coast of Maine (such an easy trip from Boston) and come back to see more in-depth posts on some of my favorite activities! What did you do this summer?